Welcome to round 14 of Monster Energy Supercross, the tour's first-ever visit to Nashville, Tennessee. Nissan Stadium is an open-air building, but the weather is absolutely perfect, and while the floor space isn't huge, the track is jumpy and busy enough to take advantage of all the space available. Justin Brayton, injured and not riding tonight, is hanging with us in the press box and said the track is jumpy. The whoops are also pretty sharp, and the dirt is hard and doesn't look likely to break down to the point where they will become jumping whoops. What actually could be a bigger challenge is inconsistency--there are rocks and marbles in spots, and other spots might become blue grooved.
Of course, this season is still on fire, with Cooper Webb leading the points by 17, trying to put the finishing touches on not only his first 450SX Championship, but one of the most out-of-nowhere title drives the sport has ever seen. Until this season, Webb had not won a 450SX race. This week, @sxresearchdept revealed that only twice have riders in their first season winning a premier-class race won more than Webb's six this year, Jeremy McGrath's seminal 1993 rookie season (10 wins) and Chad Reed's 2003 rookie season (8 wins). Usually, this is a building process. Webb has exploded this season, and since he's never won this title before, it makes every step in the championship process seem that more newer
But, the title is far from locked and there is the possibility of some residual heat from Webb's Red Bull KTM teammate Marvin Musquin, who got pushed off the track by Webb last week in Houston. Musquin had won two races in a row until Houston, he's still second in points, and he needs to make things happen quickly if he wants to make up some ground.
Then you have Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen, who are further behind in points but always weekly threats for victories. Dean Wilson is also surging courtesy of a podium last week, and there are plenty of other contenders still left in this field.
It's a little more lopsided in 250SX East, as Austin Forkner is kicking butt on a weekly basis and holds a 26-point lead over Chase Sexton. Forkner hasn't been beaten by a 250 East rider yet this year--his only loss came at the Atlanta 250 East/West Showdown, courtesy of west riders Adam Cianciarulo and Dylan Ferrandis.
Three 250SX East races remain, here tonight, and then New Jersey and the Vegas East/West finale.
Practice is about to begin here in Nashville, stay tuned for all the updates.
First Timed Practice
Good news and bad news for Austin Forkner fans—he set the fastest time in this session, but then he also crashed hard. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider got sideways in the whoops, and that set him toward the tuff blocks over the next set off jumps, and tagged one and went down hard. It looked like he knocked the wind out of himself, but he then got up limping, looking like he had a foot or ankle problem. He was able to limp off of the track, so the injury isn’t incredibly bad, but, Forkner has been walking the tight rope through practice all season, with several big crashes but no injuries to show for it. We’ll see how this one impacts his performance tonight.
Mitch Oldenburg, Chase Sexton and Justin Cooper were second through fourth in lap times. Forkner’s teammate Martin Davalos looked good also but he had a crash as well, although not as big a hit as Forkner.
|1||Austin Forkner||49.520||Richards, MO||Kawasaki KX250F|
|50.669||Alvord, TX||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Chase Sexton||50.715||La Moille, IL||Honda CRF250R|
|4||Justin Cooper||51.119||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|1||Ryan Sipes||52.131||Vine Grove, KY||KTM 250 SX-F|
|2||Isaac Teasdale||53.250||Robbinsville, NC||Honda CRF250R|
|3||Fredrik Noren||53.444||Lidköping||Honda CRF250R|
|4||Ramyller Alves||53.544||Coconut Creek, FL||Yamaha YZ250F|
|5||Cade Autenrieth||53.631||Hemet, CA||Honda CRF250R|
|1||Tanner Stack||55.129||Oak Grove, MO||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Brice Klippel||56.117||Bradford, TN||Honda CRF250R|
|56.722||Rolla, MO||Kawasaki KX250|
|4||Curren Thurman||57.747||Rosharon, TX||Husqvarna FC 250|
|5||Hunter Hilton||57.816||Youngsville, LA||Husqvarna FC 250|
In 450s, Justin Bogle showed signs of speed the last few weeks in practice, and he took it to another level here, throwing down good laps in untimed practice earlier, and then briefly getting to the top of the board in this timed session. He looked really good, too, experimenting with some jump combinations early (he was one of the first to triple through the middle of the far-side rhythm lane early today). Bogle’s time was ultimately fourth-fastest, which is one of his best performances of the year.
Musquin’s time ended up being on top, with Blake Baggett right behind him.
|1||Marvin Musquin||49.983||La Reole||KTM 450 SX-F|
|2||Blake Baggett||50.595||Grand Terrace, CA||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Joey Savatgy||50.616||Thomasville, GA||Kawasaki KX450|
|4||Justin Bogle||50.659||Cushing, OK||KTM 450 SX-F|
|5||Dean Wilson||50.752||Scotland||Husqvarna FC 450|
Eli Tomac was just 11th in this session, which has to be his lowest rank in a practice session in a long time.
Second Timed Practices
Not only was Chase Sexton on top of the board for most of this session, but he also made it look easy, flowing around a track many are saying it actually quite difficult. Meanwhile, Forkner added to his crash in the first session with another one here, and he again had to be attended to by the Alpinestars’ medic crew. This time he did not walk off under his own power and instead took a ride on the medic mule back to the pits—not a good sign for the current series’ leader. We’ll update his status as soon as we can get word. Forkner’s time was third fastest behind his teammate Davalos.
Marvin Musquin topped the first session, and he looked good out here again, but Ken Roczen improved massively from his first session and moved to the top of the board. This track is getting tough, as the track appears to be getting slicker, and the jumps are quite peaked, so there’s little room for error. Kenny looked smooth just like his at-home riding partner Sexton did in the 250 session. Musquin was second.
|1||Chase Sexton||48.836||La Moille, IL||Honda CRF250R|
|3||Austin Forkner||49.520||Richards, MO||Kawasaki KX250F|
|4||Justin Cooper||49.680||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|49.818||Alvord, TX||Yamaha YZ250F|
|1||Chase Sexton||48.836||La Moille, IL||Honda CRF250R|
|3||Austin Forkner||49.586||Richards, MO||Kawasaki KX250F|
|4||Justin Cooper||49.680||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|49.818||Alvord, TX||Yamaha YZ250F|
|1||Ryan Sipes||50.990||Vine Grove, KY||KTM 250 SX-F|
|2||Fredrik Noren||52.720||Lidköping||Honda CRF250R|
|3||Cade Autenrieth||52.724||Hemet, CA||Honda CRF250R|
|4||Bradley Taft||52.908||Nixa, MO||Yamaha YZ250F|
|5||Isaac Teasdale||53.128||Robbinsville, NC||Honda CRF250R|
|1||Tanner Stack||55.790||Oak Grove, MO||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Curren Thurman||56.075||Rosharon, TX||Husqvarna FC 250|
|3||Locky Kennedy||56.536||Adelaide||KTM 250 SX-F|
|4||Hunter Hilton||56.680||Youngsville, LA||Husqvarna FC 250|
|56.936||Rolla, MO||Kawasaki KX250|
Eli Tomac’s 11th in the first session was not normal. Even though he’s been struggling from his usual speed standards in the races, you don’t expect the Kawasaki man to not even crack the top ten in practice—he was better this time, and his laps put him around fourth for most of the session, but late in the race a few heater laps from others pushed him down to sixth.
Justin Bogle only ended up eighth, but he again looked frisky and was inside the top five for most of the session. “I like tracks like this,” Bogle told us after the first timed practice. “It has a lot of options.”
|1||Ken Roczen||48.376||Mattstedt||Honda CRF450R|
|2||Marvin Musquin||48.443||La Reole||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Dean Wilson||48.753||Scotland||Husqvarna FC 450|
|4||Joey Savatgy||48.829||Thomasville, GA||Kawasaki KX450|
|5||Tyler Bowers||49.174||Danville, KY||Kawasaki KX450|
Update from the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki pits: Austin Forkner is out for tonight due to the knee injury he sustained in a practice crash. The team was hoping he could at least give it a go, but right before opening ceremonies we saw Austin in street clothes and getting fitted for a set of crutches. Austin told us he can't even walk at the moment, so he definitely can't ride. The full extent of his knee injury will have to wait--as of now the 250SX East title picture has changed almost completely, although Forkner has built up exactly a one-race lead in the series over Chase Sexton.
Martin Davalos has looked solid all day, especially in the whoops. He handled his business well in heat race 1, making it look easy. The biggest battle came late between a charging Justin Cooper, who was trying to get Alex Martin for second. Martin held him off to the checkers. Anthony Rodriguez snagged the ninth and final transfer spot.
|49.355||9 Laps||Quito||Kawasaki KX250F|
|50.127||+07.205||Millville, MN||Suzuki RM-Z250|
|3||Justin Cooper||49.957||+07.790||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Kyle Cunningham||50.824||+17.075||Aledo, TX||Honda CRF250R|
|5||John Short||51.124||+20.045||Pilot Point, TX||Honda CRF250R|
Cooper's third in the heat is okay, but with Forkner out, there's a golden opportunity tonight for him to get his first win and get right back into title contention. Chase Sexton is the other top contender, and he took care of the second heat easily. Ryan Sipes, in his first true stadium SX since 2013 once again proved his incredible versatility by running second and finishing there--an amazing performance, really, for a less-than-even-part-time racer. Mitchell Oldenburg moved up from pretty far back to third was was impressive. Oldenburg was fast all day in practice.
Justin Thompson had the final transfer spot locked in, until the final whoop section, five feet before the finish, when he crashed. Fredrik Noren was cruising along in tenth and gladly picked up the final transfer spot.
|1||Chase Sexton||49.040||9 Laps||La Moille, IL||Honda CRF250R|
|2||Ryan Sipes||50.748||+13.861||Vine Grove, KY||KTM 250 SX-F|
|50.012||+15.933||Alvord, TX||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Josh Osby||50.904||+20.996||Valparaiso, IN||Yamaha YZ250F|
|5||Mitchell Falk||51.448||+22.785||Carlsbad, CA||KTM 250 SX-F|
450 Heat 1
This one went crazy. Mike Alessi grabbed the holeshot, then parked Cooper Webb. Marvin Musquin then took the lead, but then Ronnie Stewart and Tyler Enticknap had a huge crash. Enticknap looked hurt, but Ronnie Stewart was even worse. He had to be taken off by the Alpinestars medic team. Hopefully Stewart is okay, this one looked gnarly. It also led to a red flag restart.
Tomac grabbed the lead on the restart but Webb ate him up to take the lead, only for Tomac to come right back with a block pass and bring the fans to life. Savatgy and Musquin were next. Tomac then started pulling away from Webb, the kind of jolt he needs after a few sub-par weeks as well as sub-par practice sessions today. But when it rains it pours, and just when thing were rolling his way, Tomac’s bike suddenly expired while he was leading. That was it for him—he pushed his bike back up the tunnel and toward the pits. The good news for Monster Energy Kawasaki is that Savatgy made the move on Webb and held onto the lead from there. On the last lap, Webb was close and trying to set up a move, but instead he went flying in the whoops, off the side of the track and over some tuff blocks. He stayed up, but threw in one wild swap in the final set of whoops for good measure.
|1||Joey Savatgy||48.722||9 Laps||Thomasville, GA||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Cooper Webb||49.014||+04.447||Newport, NC||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Justin Bogle||49.363||+10.768||Cushing, OK||KTM 450 SX-F|
|4||Justin Hill||49.961||+13.435||Yoncalla, OR||Suzuki RM-Z450|
|5||Justin Barcia||49.882||+14.736||Monroe, NY||Yamaha YZ450F|
But Webb’s run through the whoops was better than his teammate Musquin, who was not only slow in the whoops, but also crashed in the set before the finish line. Marvin then set about coming through the pack, and Mike Alessi parked him with a shoulder-to-shoulder block pass for good measure. He ended up eighth.
Blake Baggett got the jump out of the gate, but Zach Osborne hung inside in turn one to take the lead. It didn’t last long, as Ken Roczen had a better jump line through the first rhythm to take the lead. Osborne bobbled and Roczen’s teammate Cole Seely quickly busted through as well to take second. From there, Roczen pulled away by using incredible whoop speed. Seely was second, his whoop speed was impressive also, just not quite on the level of Roczen. Keep in mind Seely and Roczen were also strong in the gnarly Seattle whoops, so those Hondas are working.
|1||Ken Roczen||48.497||9 Laps||Mattstedt||Honda CRF450R|
|2||Cole Seely||49.046||+08.483||Newbury Park, CA||Honda CRF450R|
|49.005||+10.881||Abingdon, VA||Husqvarna FC 450|
|4||Dean Wilson||49.435||+11.620||Scotland||Husqvarna FC 450|
|5||Blake Baggett||49.611||+13.569||Grand Terrace, CA||KTM 450 SX-F|
Kevin Moranz took the early lead, but Ramy Alves was on a rail, passing several riders to grab the lead. Steven Clarke started fifth but quickly moved to third…and then Alves endoed hard in the whoops while leading! That was the end of his night, he was down for awhile but eventually able to get up slowly. Through all of this, Clarke was able to take the lead over Moranz. Cade Autenrieth was flying through the whoops and took third, until a late charge from James Weeks. Weeks locked third down, then Moranz bobbled and Weeks took over second. Autenrieth tried to get Moranz also, and they battled in the final two spots. Don’t throw it away, boys! They both stayed up and took the final spots, with Dustin Winter just short.
|1||Steven Clarke||53.292||7 Laps||Honda CRF250R|
|2||James Weeks||52.871||+04.517||Punta Gorda, FL||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Cade Autenrieth||53.548||+06.390||Hemet, CA||Honda CRF250R|
|54.006||+07.079||Topeka, KS||Kawasaki KX250|
|5||Dustin Winter||53.501||+08.215||Clearwater, KS||Yamaha YZ250F|
Eli Tomac was in this one after his bike broke while leading the heat, he started about sixth and quickly rolled through to get past the leader, Austin Politelli. They were set as the top two, but then three riders had the battle of death for the final two transfer spots. Charles LaFrancois, Justin Starling and Ryan Breece went at it. Breece got to third but bobbled back to fifth, Starling got ‘em both for third, and LaFrancios and Breece put together an amazing duel for the last spot, going back and forth. Breece held on for the last transfer to the main.
|1||Eli Tomac||48.410||8 Laps||Cortez, CO||Kawasaki KX450|
|50.640||+12.438||Menifee, CA||Honda CRF450R|
|3||Justin Starling||50.620||+16.412||Deland, FL||Husqvarna FC 450|
|4||Ryan Breece||50.550||+17.606||Coeur D' Alene, ID||Yamaha YZ450F|
|5||Charles Lefrancois||51.462||+18.555||Suzuki RM-Z450|
Well…..with Forkner out the door was wide open for either Justin Cooper or Chase Sexton to grab a first career win and make up max points. And they both rode like there was that much on the line, because Sexton wasted no time slicing inside of Cooper a few turns into the race to take the lead, and then Cooper put on a huge block pass in a bowl turn right after…and they both went down! This put Martin Davalos into the lead, and the veteran knew exactly what to do with it. He took off and won this one handily.
Mitchell Oldenburg washed the front on the first lap, so combine that with Forkner not racing and the Cooper/Sexton crash up early, and you had all kinds of riders bidding for podium real estate early. Rookie Mitchell Falk was second, Kyle Peters and Brandon Hartranft were also there. Even Englishman Steven Clarke ran third for a lap before going down. Eventually, Sexton and Cooper were able to work their way forward, and the crowd followed his every move by cheering each pass. He rolled through Falk, Hartranft and Peters to climb to second, but by then Davalos was long gone. Cooper then made some late moves to get to third, pushing Peters and Hartranft back to fourth and fifth. Falk faded badly down the stretch and was just able to hold off Alex Martin to get ninth. You know what was impressive? Ryan Sipes ran a rock solid race and finished eighth.
Unofficially, Forkner still leads the points by three over Sexton.
"I thought I made a good pass on him...he ended up taking us both out," said Sexton. "It's okay, was came back and passed him. It's a bummer Austin didn't race, I don't want to catch him in points that way. We'll regroup and come back in New Jersey. Yeah, I feel like that was my win and I had it taken away from me."
"Chase gave me a little run for my money, he came in hot and pushed me out wide there," said Cooper. "We were battling out there, we were both going for that win. It's kind of a bummer, that's kind of a flat turn and you kind of have to block the guy to make the pass stick. We kind of got caught together with our bikes and both went down. We both had to come through the pack, and I had another crash I think two laps later. That put me back in the battle with Chase, we went back and forth a little bit. Move on to the next one."
Davalos has not been as fast as usual this year, he said his neck injury (dating back to last year) has been bothering him badly, his arms have been falling asleep and even burning at times. He spent time in California in therapy working on his neck and is finally feeling better--it showed here.
|49.081||19 Laps||Quito||Kawasaki KX250F|
|2||Chase Sexton||49.686||+03.508||La Moille, IL||Honda CRF250R|
|3||Justin Cooper||50.069||+08.575||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Kyle Peters||50.505||+13.091||Greensboro, NC||Suzuki RM-Z250|
|5||Brandon Hartranft||50.651||+18.721||Brick, NJ||Yamaha YZ250F|
Webb nailed the holeshot ahead of Musquin, then Savatgy, Baggett and Wilson. Roczen was on fire though making passes in a hurry to join that group. On lap two, Musquin went down in the whoops while closing on Webb, and that was all she wrote—he got up but he was all the way back in the pack. Webb then had a decent lead but Roczen was coming in a hurry…until Savatgy washed out in a corner, leaving Roczen with nowhere to go. Roczen collided with Savatgy’s bike and went over the berm. Savatgy meanwhile appeared hurt, and walked off the track holding his wrist.
Through all of this, Tomac, who had a bad start due to his bad gate pick from the LCQ, appeared near the front. He started stalking Webb and made quick work of him to take the lead. From there, the old Eli was back—he rode phenomenally to take the victory. Baggett was able to take second away from Webb, completing the podium. Dean Wilson and Zach Osborne came through next, with Musquin making up a lot of ground from the back to take sixth ahead of Seely and Roczen.
|1||Eli Tomac||48.949||26 Laps||Cortez, CO||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Blake Baggett||49.216||+11.644||Grand Terrace, CA||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Cooper Webb||49.671||+13.808||Newport, NC||KTM 450 SX-F|
|4||Dean Wilson||49.548||+18.940||Scotland||Husqvarna FC 450|
|50.174||+23.804||Abingdon, VA||Husqvarna FC 450|